Spain v England
UEFA Nations League A4
Monday 15th October 2018
Benito Villamarin Stadium
Set the Scene
The Newly Formed Uefa Nations League provided one of England’s finest evenings back in 2019. The Competitons was formed to avoid so many meaningless friendlies and pitted teams of the same kind of level against each other. The sides were to play each other home and away. England were drawn with Spain and Croatia.
England were hoping to build on the previous summer’s exploits at the World Cup in Russia where they had made the Semi Finals only to lose to Croatia in Extra Time. They began the Nations League with a Home Fixture at Wembley against Spain and despite taking the lead through a wonderful Marcus Rashford goal the conceded twice to lost the game 1-2 and the task of Qualifying looked a tall tall order now, the task looked even bleaker for England when they headed to Croatia to try and extract some kind of revenge for that World Cup defeat but they were held to a 0-0 draw despite dominating a match that was played behind closed doors due to the behaviour of Croatians at previous matches. With all hope lookin gone to Qualify the Group was blown wide open when Croatia suprisingly beat Spain 3-2 with a last minute Tim Jedvej goal proving the winner. England now headed to Seville knowing a win would leave the outcome of the Group in their own hands.
It had been 31 Years since England had won an away fixture in Spain and the Spanish had never lost a competitive game in Seville where the game was to be played. Incredibly Gareth Southgate’s men were 3-0 up inside 27 Minutes with the despite the Spanish dominating the ball unable to cope with the blistering counter attacks of the England front three of Kane, Rashford and Sterling. This was to be the coming of age evening for Sterling in an England shirt, so often he had failed to deliver his club form onto the international stage.
The Opening Goal came after 17 Minutes when Marcus Rashford split the Spanish defence in two and Sterling showed terrific composure to fire high into the net past David de Gea. Spain had a couple of Opportunities through Marco Asensio and Thiago Alcantara but neither were accurate enough to beat Jordan Pickford. In Fact it wasn Pickford involved at the other end just moments later when his pinpoint kick found Harry Kane who held the ball up and released at the opportune moment to Rashford who ran through on his Man Utd team mate De Gea and beat him with ease to put the 3 lions two nil up. Two became Three on 38 Minutes and it was Sterling again tapping in as Harry Kane unselfishly crossed across goal for an easy tap in for the Man City man.
Understandably Spain came out of the blocks firing and Saul Niguez missed a great chance to pull one back but Paco Alcacer made no mistake after 53 Minutes. The On Loan Dortmund man had only been on the field a matter of minutes before he glanced a headed beyond Pickford to give Spain a glimmer of hope. It was a back to the walls effort from England in the second half and how Pickford avoided giving away a Penalty or being sent off remains a mystery.
The Everton Goalkeeper was to confident with the ball at his feet and when he tried to take on Spanish forward Rodrigo he was dispossessed and as the Striker took his shot towards an empty net the Everton man clearly pulled him back and the 50000 in attendance and the millions watching on TV were expecting the referee to point to the spot. Unbelievably the claim was waved away and England had a massive let off. Spain finally did pull another goal back in injury time through Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos but it was to little to late and the referee blew the whistle and England were top of the Group and had created there own little piece of history despite enjoying just 27% Position throughout the 90 Minutes.
De Gea, Otto, Nacho, Ramos (C), M.Alonso, Busquets, Saul Niguez, Aspas, Rodrigo, Asensio
Subs Used : Alcacer, Morata, Ceballos
Pickford, Trippier, Gomez, Maguire, Chilwell, Winks, Dier, Barkley, Sterling, Kane, Rashford
Subs Used : Chalobah, Alexander Arnold, Walker